Letters to Daniel Craig help author navigate bipolar disorder 

Amy McCorkle uses blog, book and film as pieces in bipolar puzzle

click to enlarge Craig as Bond
  • Craig as Bond

It was actor Daniel Craig who led Amy McCorkle to recovery from a bipolar breakdown.

Well, it wasn't the actor himself who helped her through trauma, but it was a series of letters that she addressed to him. And, for the record, not one was fan mail.

McCorkle wrote her first blog post on May 7, 2013, opening with "Dear Daniel." She began writing fake letters to Craig — her favorite actor — telling him about her life, particularly the parts of her life impacted by bipolar disorder.

"It's my healing process," says McCorkle. "Seventeen years ago I suffered a bipolar breakdown, and through treatment [like] medication and therapy and support of friends and family, I have gone on to become an award-winning and bestselling author, blogger, screenwriter and filmmaker."

click to enlarge Amy McCorkle
  • Amy McCorkle

For her, each blog post was a way to take on every day.

After four months she gathered a few of the letters and self-published a book of the same name on Amazon.

"I didn't really think anybody was going to read it," says McCorkle. "I didn't think anything was going to come of it."

A surprise, then, when not only did responses start pouring in from readers — ones that said things like "you are telling my story" — so did the downloads.

According to McCorkle, Letters to Daniel was a number one new release on Kindle and even hit the Top 100 Paid Bestseller list on Amazon for a while. When she offered it for free during May (National Mental Health Awareness Month), it garnered international attention, hitting number four in U.S., number three in Canada, six in Australia and number two in Japan.

And yes, Daniel Craig has read the book. Her first agent got it in front of him and he told her that he was honored, touched and moved.

"It translated into a book when I felt like I wanted to use it as an outreach tool for other people who may be dealing with mental illness," says McCorkle. "... To let them know that there is recovery. My recovery might not look like yours, but there is some form of recovery out there.

"To me it's my message that you can get help, that you don't have to stay stuck."

Eventually she turned the book into a zero budget documentary about her life. It screened at four festivals and won awards at three of them.

In February of 2015 her and her best friend, Melissa Goodman, wrote a screenplay about their friendship.

"It covered the time periods where we were in Texas trying to make a movie and the bipolar disorder kind of put the brakes on all of that," says McCorkle. "It's the story of our friendship and how bipolar disorder disrupted it and how we survived it and came through that. We really went through some rough times."

For a while the two were living on $15 a week for groceries. While their checks could pay for the apartment they were living in, that was about all.

Writing about their friendship brought comfort to McCorkle, but it wasn't always comfortable for Goodman.

"I had to convince her that it would be a good thing to share this story," says McCorkle. "Really my journey was in part her journey. By exposing that part of my life I was exposing that part of her life and she is much more reserved and private than I am."

She added that Goodman is now not only on board, she helped her co-write a script for a feature film that they are trying to finance.

"[Writing] was the final piece in my recovery puzzle, says McCorkle. "Recovery is really a one-day at a time process. You are always wanting to put more good days together than bad days. Here recently I have had more good days.

"The thing about bipolar disorder is the nature of the illness is to resist treatment, like in your brain you are thinking 'I don't need the drug,'" says McCorkle. "And there is still this stigma out there. When people hear bipolar disorder they look at you like you have two heads. I kind of want to work towards ending that too.

"Writing the blog enabled me to define my voice as a writer and find my footing again," says McCorkle. "It allowed me to reclaim the power the abuse and mental illness had robbed me of."

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Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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